Photo credit vox.com
By Sherry Simmons
Freedom of speech, the very reason I can be here right now writing. Freedom of speech belongs to everyone. These days it is being attacked over and over. We see this attack in the government, local and national. We see it in the medias, the news outlets, politics, and social platforms. Some how, some where along the way, freedom of speech became bruised and dissected. You are only allowed to say what you feel if it is in agreement with others. You are allowed to talk as long as it will fit someone else's narrative.
Where would we be if our founding Fathers added these directions to the First Amendment? There would be no debates, no meeting at the round tables, our country would have be left stagnant and with no growth. Freedom of speech is important in the days of corruption, although this freedom to call out wrongs gets muted,often buried, in many cases.
Freedom of speech for some one to tell their side of a story, is fundamentally imperative. Every story has at least two sides. Two views, two accounts, two memories. Freedom of speech has always been important to me but I had an" in your face moment recently."
Our local news has never given a fair account of the Patriots, never actually asking their side of any story they covered. Right or wrong both sides should be heard. Last December I was acquitted of a harassment charge by jury. If I could not have told my side, this would not have happened. There was Free speech in that trial ( for the most part, the DA did try to get the 1st Amendment thrown out) Free speech for both sides to tell their story and let others decide. This is the core meat of our Constitutional right. My freedom of Speech- does not over ride- your freedom of Speech- and visa versa.
Social media is a well known platform of debate. It is not hard to find a post where a debate of comments quickly explodes. Unfortunately big tech has become a strong arm in censoring these platforms. Again the idea of free speech being perfectly OK if it fits in an agenda.
What is also evident on these platforms is the attempt by all average Jo's to silent anyone who does not agree with them. Heated conversations accelerating to name calling, and finger pointing. This generation does not value free speech, and perhaps they have groomed by all the censoring we see on a daily basis. Often these angry debate lose focus of the discussion and end up no more than a tit-for-tat of insults.
Imagine if you will, being accused of something and never being able to tell your story, or imagine educating your self and wanting to share what you've learned only to be shot down. It seems more and more people have no tolerance for free speech. Much of society has become a species of self righteous, all knowing, opinionated bullies. No room for free speech unless of course it is for them.
Sad times in deed for this world. and even sadder for the children who are growing up learning you don't listen, you just argue. You don't explore possibilities of other views you just insist on your own- at the cost of kindness, integrity, and unity as a whole.
There is always two sides of every story, if we get to a point where we stop wanting to hear each others point of views we have lost our humanity.
Free speech is crucial in decision making. How could we make a decision or choice in a matter if we aren't allowed to hear other opinions, other voices, other thoughts? We might as well live in a third world country under a dictatorship. Listening to one person and no others, hearing nothing but one side , one might as well say " this is how it is -don't question anything."
Freedom of speech is so important to in everyday circumstances. Right down to" no I don't want fries with that." Our freedom to speak our minds does not come with specifications. The first amendment does not read freedom of speech only if it doesn't make someone uncomfortable, or freedom of speech only if it goes along with the majority. Although I absolutely believe we should be respectful in our speech, I in no way think we should be monitored or censored.
Having been blessed with the opportunity to tell my side of a story I know the importance of it. I know with out my freedom to speak, my story would have never been heard. We all have this freedom, given to us by Almighty God and written in our Constitution. If we allow censorship to continue to grow we are in deep trouble. We, each of us, must put down our walls and listen to each other. Listen even if we don't agree, and from there we can form our own opinion. Forming our own opinion doesn't stop there either, we have the freedom to speak of our opinion.
Freedom of Speech is a two part duty, freedom to talk and decency to listen.
Take time to listen respect each other, we can learn much when we listen intensively instead of listening that we may reply.